Harrow School students join Certitude residents for online cookery project

Pupils from Harrow School are combining forces with local people with learning disabilities to cook up some fun new recipe videos to be shared on social media.

A group of sixth formers from Harrow School regularly visit local people with learning disabilities who are supported by social care provider Certitude to live in a house near the school. This is part of an ongoing relationship to build closer connections with the local community.

Now the two groups are coming together to share their newly acquired cookery skills in a series of accessible short recipe videos to be posted on social media.  The films, will be fun and informative and designed to encourage people with learning disabilities, teenagers and anyone else to get into the kitchen and start cooking healthy meals for themselves.

Alice Rankin, from Certitude who organises the joint activity with the school says:

“The boys bring a lovely dose of youthful energy to the house and it’s a joy to see them cooking together with the people we support every week. Everyone gets along really well and I think both groups benefit from meeting and engaging with people they wouldn’t usually meet in their everyday lives. We thought it would be interesting and useful to share this happiness and know-how in some short videos of simple-to-make recipes.”

On the menu for the first session of filming, which is scheduled for Monday 26th February, will be a cookies and microwave mug cakes.  Everyone will be sharing the roles of cooking, presenting, filming and editing.

Director of Shaftesbury Enterprise, Harrow’s charitable, outreach and partnership programme Tim Dalton says: “Harrow School is delighted that some of our Sixth Form volunteers are working with Certitude. The boys love going to the house and have really enjoyed the activities – especially the cooking. There is a wonderful atmosphere at the sessions and great relationships have been formed over the last few months.”

You can see the results of the filming collaboration by following @Certitude on Twitter and liking them on Facebook or searching Certitude on YouTube towards the end of March.

Collaboration at the heart of the matter

At Certitude, we believe everyone has the right to a good life and enjoy supporting people with complex mental health needs to achieve this.

Belief that people with severe and enduring mental health needs can live a great life is fundamental, but our learning in Lambeth has also taught us that so is collaboration.

The Lambeth Integrated Personalised Support Alliance (IPSA) is an alliance of organisations that have come together in Lambeth to transform the lives of people with serious long-term mental health issues. It offers people who currently go into long-term, expensive hospital rehabilitation wards or registered care homes the chance to live more independently in their own flat in the community. The aim is to help people who use the services recover and stay well, participate on an equal footing in daily life and make their own choices.

The alliance is made up of five partners including ourselves, Thames Reach, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Lambeth Council and is part of a collaborative approach in the borough bringing together voluntary sector providers, health professionals, commissioners and the people using the services.

As part of the alliance, Certitude has the privilege of providing a specialist service that assists people to develop the skills and confidence needed to live in their community. We provide personalised support aimed at helping people to recover, stay well, and to benefit from more independent living. People are supported by skilled staff and have access to integrated clinical and social support when needed to help them manage their recovery and cope with periods of crisis. Usually within 6 months of receiving support, people will have the necessary skills and confidence to step down to lower support or independent housing.

*Dan became unwell when he was 18 and was admitted to hospital due to experiencing symptoms of psychosis. Dan was supported through a number of locked acute and rehabilitation services over a 7-year period across London and told us he had lost hope of ever living in the community or near his family. Lambeth IPSA believed in the possibility of Dan living in the community and worked collaboratively to support him to move to Turrets, an accommodation service we provide, and then on to more independent living where he lives today. Dan is testament to the possibilities created when systems can work together to support people with severe and enduring mental illness to live great lives in their community.

*We have changed the person’s name to protect his anonymity.

You can talk about mental health

1 in 4 people will experience challenges with their mental health this year, yet talking about mental health can still be considered ‘taboo’. Too many people feel isolated, worthless and ashamed. Time to Talk Day is a chance for everyone to talk, to listen and to change lives.

Everyone has mental health just as we all have physical health, and both are equally important. All of us will experience times in our life when we feel less mentally well than usual, such as when a relationship ends, or we face financial difficulties. Some people become more unwell than others, but stigma creates a wall of judgement, isolation and shame for those who deserve more of our kindness. This can stop people seeking help, so it is all our responsibilities to help end the stigma by breaking the silence.

Talking about mental health isn’t always easy, but it can make an enormous difference to somebody’s life. Think about the people around you – your friends, family, workmates… does someone seem stressed a lot? Has someone’s appearance changed? Does someone seem distracted or absent? Are they using social media differently? Have you asked, ‘are you ok?’. You don’t have to be an expert to talk and to listen, and often it’s the little things that make a big difference.

I thought I was doing ok, but when someone actually asked me, everything I’d kept hidden came flooding out. It didn’t solve things, but sharing how I felt was like a huge weight being lifted. It helped me see through the fog and have hope.” Sarah

Every conversation about mental health brings us closer to a world without stigma and there are lots of ways to get conversations started. Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking someone ‘how are you doing?’, and really listening to the answer. You could talk about a mental-health related story in the news or a celebrity to get the conversation started. It can also be easier to talk side-by-side rather than face-to-face: when you’re cooking, driving or walking somewhere are all good opportunities to give it a try.

There are lots of people you can talk to about your own mental health if you are unable to talk to people around you. Some of these include:

Solidarity in a Crisis (Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham)

0300 123 1922 or text on 0778 975 6081 or 0778 975 6083

The Samaritans

116 123

Rethink Mental Illness

0300 5000 927


0300 123 3393

Your GP

You can also join a free training course with the Zero Suicide Alliance, who are committed to suicide prevention. You will learn how to identify when someone is showing signs of suicidal thoughts or behaviour, talk about it with them in a supportive manner and help them identify the services or support that might help them.

Here at Certitude we understand the value of sharing experiences and life stories and we support people to build trusting, lasting relationships with people they can turn to for support. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook today to hear more about how talking about mental health has helped people across Certitude.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, have a conversation about mental health today. Together, we can end mental health discrimination.

SELF comes to Hounslow

A bold photographic exhibition showing the human face of social care will be running in four Hounslow libraries throughout February 2018.

Isleworth, Feltham and Heston libraries and Hounslow Civic Centre will host ‘SELF–Portraits in Social Care’ an intimate and inspiring exhibition offering an alternative view of people working in, and supported by, social care. In total 100 images will be exhibited with 25 at each venue.

The idea came from Certitude Community Development Manager, Jake Meyer who worked in close partnership with professional photographer, Dean Belcher, to create this collection of revealing portraits. Jake explains: “First and foremost this is a show about community. The photographs illustrate the extraordinary diversity of people living in Hounslow and put real faces to the concept of ‘social care’.

Everyone featured in the SELF exhibition lives in Hounslow and is either connected with Certitude –  a social care provider supporting people with learning disabilities, autism, and mental health needs – or Age UK. People who took part were asked to reveal something about themselves that the viewer might not realise from their portrait and these thought-provoking responses are displayed alongside the photographs.


SELF Portrait Photography Workshop February 12th 2018,

2.30-4.30pm Feltham Library


The public will be able to respond to the exhibition at a 2-hour workshop hosted by Certitude and SELF photographer, Dean Belcher, at Feltham Library on February 12th. Participants will be able to explore self image through group discussions and hands-on portrait photography. To book your place, contact Ann Cartwright at ann.cartwright@hounslow.gov.uk

SELF Portrait Hounslow trail will be running between Thursday 1st-Wednesday 28th February 2018 at:

Feltham Library, The Centre, High Street, TW13 4GU

Heston Library, New Heston Road, TW5 0LW

Hounslow Library, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, TW3 4DN

Isleworth Library, Twickenham Road, TW7 7EU


Certitude Community Choir Lets off Steam!

The Certitude Community Choir – which is made of a mix of people who are supported by Certitude as well as staff and friends – hosted a carol concert for locals at the London Museum of Water and Steam on Thursday 7th of December.

Certitude supports people with learning disabilities, mental health support needs and autism across London and formed the choir four years ago to promote community inclusion. The concert raised £500 to support Certitude’s work locally.

The choir treated guests, including Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, to a performance of festive favorites in the stunning Victorian splendor of the Steam Hall at the museum in Kew. Before, the show guests chatted to the performers over drinks and mince pies accompanied with beautiful music and singing from local artist Sarah Berresford.

Ruth Cadbury MP said of the concert “It was lovely seeing so many people there and singing along with everyone. The wonderful venue certainly got everyone into the festive spirit! It was a great night.”

Choir member Susan said, “It went very well and I enjoyed it very much. It was cold so Edward (the choirmaster) got us to move our legs and do breathing exercises. At the end the audience clapped really loudly.”

The Certitude Community Choir has performed at many local events, going from strength to strength since it was formed a few years ago. If you would like to get involved with Certitude  – either by joining the Community Choir or by volunteering or fundraising –  visit http://www.certitude.org.uk/get-involved/ for more information.

The Big Draw Event in Hounslow

Creative Journeys joined up with artists Nicki Rolls & Lynsey Storer from Redlees Studios along with students from Brentford School for Girls to run their first Big Draw Event last month at the Redlees Studios.

Anita Sangha, Community Connector Hounslow tells us more about the day…

It was our first time joining The Big Draw Festival and running an event with Redlees Studios. The theme of the event was ‘Living Lines’ and people had the opportunity to leave a creative mark on their version of a map of Hounslow. We had a brilliant turnout and it was great seeing everyone contributing, putting their creative thoughts into practice and coming up with some fantastic artwork.

People used maps as a starting point for ‘Living Lines’; a range of materials were used for drawing from traditional materials such as pencil and pen to wire and 3D resources. People were able to share their ideas, express their feelings, and learn new skills from each other.

A lady living in Hounslow said “I am so glad I came in as I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’ve never done any creative work like this before”. Another lady added that she “had a great time today meeting everyone and painting”. She has since displayed her artwork proudly in her home – a replica of the map of Hounslow which includes her home and the café she loves visiting.

Artist Nicki Rolls said “It was great to have such a high turnout! I felt there was a great creative energy and was good to see people trying out things they never done before. The girls from Brentford School helped to make it a positive, fun day.”

We had around thirty people join from all backgrounds, ages and abilities and everyone enjoyed Miriam Spinelli’s classical and jazz music throughout the day which added to the energy and ambience of the event.

Thank you to everyone who attended!

You can see more from the day here.

The Big Draw Event ran from 1st October – 31st October 2017. More information here: http://www.thebigdraw.org/

Certitude awarded £2000 through Tesco Bags of Help initiative

Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch its Bags of Help funding initiative, which sees grants raised from the 5p bag levy – being awarded to local outdoor community projects every month.

We are pleased to announce that through the initiative, Certitude has been awarded £2000.

The money will now be going towards the redesign of the sensory garden at our Activity and Resource Centre in Ealing.

Anne Warner, Service Manager says “it’s great to see the sensory garden come to life. Our next crucial task is to install an accessible pathway around the perimeter of the garden, allowing people we support who are in wheelchairs and are less steady on their feet to get greater access throughout the garden. The money awarded to Certitude will be a great help to make this a reality. Thank you to everyone for their support.”

We’re really excited to see the project come together… Watch this space for further updates!

Celebrating excellence in style!

Every day our staff and volunteers make a positive difference to people’s lives and work to ensure that people have the same right to a good life as anyone else.

On Wednesday 22nd November staff, volunteers, people we support, families and community partners came together to celebrate the achievements of people across Certitude at the prestigious Hurlingham Club in Fulham. Glitz and glamour was the clear theme of the evening, with bubbles flowing, wonderful food and some amazing outfits, although if there was a prize for ‘best dressed’ on the night, this would most certainly be Charles in his batman themed suit!

The Michael Rosen Award Ceremony recognises people who dedicate themselves to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to live the life that is important to them and is supported by the Rosen family in memory of Michael Rosen, previous Chair of Support for Living. Nominations were received throughout the year and, with over 80 nominations, this was the most hotly-contested ceremony yet! Throughout the evening, we heard stories of life-changing support, of people achieving amazing things and many heart-warming reasons why so many people are considered ‘Best Colleagues’ and ‘Best Volunteers’.

Aisling Duffy, Chief Executive, said of the celebrations: “It is truly inspirational and humbling to hear and see the drive and determination of people and teams to make a difference to the lives of others. Certitude couldn’t be prouder of all the nominees this year and I feel so privileged to work alongside such outstanding colleagues.”

We are incredibly proud of everyone who was nominated and are grateful for the work that continues across Certitude every day. Our thanks also go to the Rosen family, The Hurlingham Club and our supporters across the evening, without whom this wonderful event would not be possible.

And the winners are…


The Michael Rosen Award, presented by Sheila Rosen

Agnes Pelle, Emerson Lancheros, Umal Sheikh and Shantel Dacosta from Lock Road

Matthew Lancaster, Aleksander Widomski and The Lodge Support Team


The Best Colleague Award, presented by Sabina Laher and Charles Bodden

Winner, Charlie Wright


Runner up, Bola Owoade


The Change Maker Award, presented by Certitude Board members Dianne Greyson and Kate James

Winner, Magda Jordan


Runners up, Sam Mason and St Blaise Support Team








The Best Volunteer Award, presented by Tim Dalton, Director of Shaftesbury Enterprise at Harrow School

Winner, John Hammond


Runner up, Sabina Laher


The Making a Difference Award, presented by Sandra Joseph

Winner, Lower Road Support Team


Runner up, Funmi Ibrahim

Harrow School boys run Long Ducker for Certitude

Over 800 boys from Harrow School completed the ‘Long Ducker’ on Sunday 5th November with sponsorship money going to the School’s supported charity for this year – Certitude. The annual event is run over 10km (although some boys opt to run a half marathon); every boy takes part and raises money for charity.

The run kicks off a year of partnership activities between Harrow School and Certitude, which provides support to adults with learning disabilities and mental health needs locally.  The runners all wore Certitude T-shirts for the event and CEO Aisling Duffy and Charles Bodden, who is supported by Certitude in Harrow, were on hand to present medals to the runners as they crossed the finish line at Harrow School.

Charles Bodden commented: “It was really fun, I cheered on Max who comes to visit on Mondays and then gave out medals at the end.”

Aisling Duffy commented: “We hugely value our relationship with Harrow School. It was impressive to see so many boys and teachers running the Long Ducker, proudly wearing Certitude t-shirts and sharing our vision that everyone has the right to a good life. The money raised by Harrow School means that Certitude can go further in supporting people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health in Harrow. Certitude knows that everyone has gifts and talents and we are delighted to have the support of such a prestigious school that shares and supports our values.”

Harrow student George Grassly, who won the race on Sunday, summed up the attitude of all the runners: “Long Ducker is a very enjoyable run and a rare occasion where the whole school gets stuck into an event. I was delighted to win this year for such a great cause.”

The money raised by Harrow School this year will be used by Certitude to buy assistive technology which helps people with learning disabilities communicate more effectively. Some of the funds will also be put towards projects and activities which encourage greater interaction between people supported by Certitude and their local community. People with learning disabilities can often feel isolated so encouraging broader community connections is a considerable part of the support provided by Certitude.

To boost this drive to build more local connections, Harrow pupils are also getting directly involved with the people supported by Certitude – visiting weekly and organising cooking nights, quizzes, parties and other events throughout the year.

You can still donate and support here

You can also find us in the Harrow Times and Watford Observer


Munster Support Team win at the Great London Care Awards!

The Great London Care Awards took place on Friday 10th November at The Hilton Bankside, celebrating excellence across the care sector.

We are thrilled to announce that the Munster Support Team based in Richmond are the regional winners for The Palliative Care/End of Life Award.  The judge’s said “The team are truly inspirational. Their dedication and compassion to support people at the end of their life was moving. They have the special qualities needed in this area of work.”

The Munster Support Team gave their unwavering dedication and support to someone who was diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this year. Working with Princess Alice Hospice, Community Nursing and the Speech & Language Therapist from Your HealthCare, district nurses and the GP, the team developed a personalised care plan, which meant he could stay at home. This was a completely new experience to the team, who learned as they went with guidance from our partners.

The door was always open for his housemates to visit and they were encouraged to ask questions and to talk with staff and support each other during this difficult time. In July, he passed away at home in his own bed, listening to Elvis (his favourite), and surrounded by people who loved him.

The Great London Care Awards are part of the Great British Care Awards, a series of 9 regional awards where winners will go through to the final at Birmingham’s ICC in Spring 2018.

Congratulations to the Munster Support Team and good luck for the National finals in the Spring!